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Gamelan, Fall 2020


Are you tired of on-line learning? Do you want to make music live, in the same space with other human beings? If so, consider joining Swarthmore's Balinese Gamelan (classical Indonesian percussion orchestra). The ensemble is made up of gongs, bronze-keyed xylophones, and drums. We perform classical and modern compositions from Bali, Indonesia. We rehearse Indonesian style, without the use of notation. From time to time, when there is student interest, we also create new, collaborative compositions that mix Western and Indonesian instruments and idioms.

Anyone is welcome to join; no audition is necessary. Weekly rehearsals are normally on Mondays, 7-9 PM in Lang Concert Hall, Lang Music Building, beginning 9/7.  There will also be four Sunday rehearsals 2-5 PM (9/27, 10/25, 11/8, and 11/15) led by the Indonesian master musician I Nyoman Suadin. In addition, we offer optional additional sessions --- one-on-one or in small groups --- on Monday afternoons for students who would like some extra time each week. 

We hope to offer a live-streamed performance in November, pending College approval.  In past years we always performed with dancers, but we do not know whether that will be possible this semester.

If you are interested, please e-mail Professor Tom Whitman (

For students who are not in residence:

Students who reside elsewhere during the fall of 2020 are invited to enroll in an on-line version of MUSI 049.  This will be interactive, based on the interests of particular students. We will work out the specifics of this together, so that it suits your interests and inclinations. It could, for example, focus on readings, listening, and viewing assignments on topics you find appealing. Or it might involve composition of gamelan-inspired music created digitally or for acoustic instruments.  The instruction will be one-on-one, or in small groups, via Zoom group, meeting once per week at a mutually convenient time.  For more information, e-mail Tom Whitman at